Mushroom barley and chicken soup by Anjuli

Posted on 02-04-11 · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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In the words of my father, “Darlin, you really went to town on lunch.” Well, not exactly. What he was referring to was our lunch today of mushroom barely and chicken soup with focaccia. The focaccia was made last night by Matt in a baking frenzy – or as much as rolling out pizza dough and topping it with rosemary and goat cheese and little slivers of onions can be considered a sudden impulse. Yet focaccia does lend itself to a certain spontaneity and resulting crusty satisfaction. And we had mom’s post fresh in our heads to fuel the fire. While the dough was being rolled I stuffed a chicken in a pot, covered it in water and made the fixings of a good stock. After an hour or so of ever so carefully simmering the contents – which on mom’s stove requires a ton of finagling of knobs and peeking under the cocked lid to make sure the bloop, bloop is constant – we took the chicken out. I had started to feel the kind of crappy where your head is stuffed with foam and your kidneys hurt and you just want to lay on the floor in the kitchen and moan. So I lay there, perfectly useless, while Matt pulled apart the steaming chicken with a fork and a thumb. I did emerge a few times to pull dark chicken meat from the bowl and pop it in my mouth. I think boiled chicken may still rival the roasted kind in my book. Then we threw the bones back in and continued to barely simmer the stock, for what was supposed to be two more hours. At this point you’re aiming to get all the gelatin out of the bones. Well, unsurprisingly, we fell asleep somewhere in there and woke up at 2am to find the stock had been going strong for three long hours. It was down to about 2 inches in the pot including bones and vegetables and such. Ooops. It smelled divine, but we effectively had the essence of chicken stock, boiled down to very little. Matt strained it while I wobbled around, brushing my teeth, thinking about stock and getting into bed.

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Hearty cabbage soup with sausage and potatoes by Weezie

Posted on 12-11-09 · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hearty cabbage soup with spicy sausage, ham, and potatoes

Cabbage is a satisfying vegetable to grow in the garden like carrots and parsnips. It is relatively undemanding and available from July on in the garden. In the fall after hard frost, when you have harvested everything from the garden, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month. We consider it a staple, like carrots or onions, that we almost never have to buy.

Cabbage, by many, is considered a poor man’s vegetable and thus there are millions of recipes from around the world for wonderful cabbage soups. The following was inspired by the Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine, with my adaptations.

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Bulgur with Peas and Mint, Leeks, Prunes, Walnuts and Orange Peel by Weezie

Posted on 11-29-09 · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bulgur with Peas and Mint, Leeks, Prunes, Walnuts and Orange Peel

When Anjuli and I get together in a kitchen it is like the improvisation that goes on between jazz musicians. She has an idea and it sparks me, I enhance on it, back and forth we go until, from these sparks, a dish is created. It just flows from mind to mind and heart to heart with no effort and no ego. It is quite amazing to me. I used to sing in the 60s with a partner. Sometimes we would hit a perfect note together. The feeling of the perfection of the note would make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It had a life of its own. When Anjuli and I cook together sometimes we create a dish that feels like that. We can just feel that it is right.

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Boiling chicken and making stock by Anjuli

Posted on 10-18-08 · Tags: ,

Boiling chicken and making broth

Buying a chicken and processing it yourself is an excellent way to save money and introduce flavor into stocks and recipes. It’s easy to boil a chicken, and once done, the meat falls right off. Of course, it was only easy after my mother came for the weekend and showed me this technique and others.

There is never, ever, a good reason to buy a conventional chicken. Buy Organic, and find the best one you can. Don’t even get me started on the industry of chickens, or I will spam you with statistics and horrifying photos. Animal rights aside, you are what you eat. Who wants to be part broken-legged fat bird stuffed with antibiotics? OK, I’ll stop. This 3 pound youngin was $14.

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